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Cayman Islands

Fast Facts:

Capital : George Town (on Grand Cayman)
Population : 57,800
Official Language : English
Political Status : British dependent territory .
Location: Grand Cayman, the largest of the three Cayman Islands, lies 480 miles south of Miami. Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are 89 miles to the north east of Grand Cayman.
Natural Resources : fish, climate and beaches that foster tourism
Land Use: arable land: 3.85%; permanent crops: 0% other: 96.15%
Climate: tropical marine; warm, rainy summers (May to October) and cool, relatively dry winters (November to April)
Terrain: low-lying limestone base surrounded by coral reefs

History

When Christopher Columbus first encountered the three Cayman Islands in 1503, he called the two smaller islands "Las Tortugas", after the many sea turtles that resided there, but by 1530 the group of islands were known as the "Caymanas" after the Carib word for the marine crocodile which also lived there.

Britain took formal control of the Caymans in 1670. The first record of colonists in the Cayman islands is dated around 1700. The first attempts of colonization were not successful, but permanent settlement of the Cayman Islands began around 1730.

The advent of modern transportation and telecommunications in the 1950s led to the emergence of what are now considered the Cayman Islands' "twin pillars" of economic development: international finance, insurance and tourism.

The Caymans also enjoy no direct taxation, and the islands have historically been popular as a tax haven. In 2002, there were more than 40,000 companies registered in the Cayman Islands, including 600 banks and trust companies. Forty-three of the world’s largest banks are present in the Cayman Islands.

Today the Cayman Islands enjoy the wealthiest economy in the Caribbean: the average annual income per person is $42,000, 142% of the United States average.

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